The story of NRT
On May 11, 2014, Ltadamwa Lardagos, a member NRT’s specialist 9-1 security team lost his life in an exchange of fire with heavily-armed cattle raiders. The raiders, who had stolen large numbers of cattle several days earlier, had first been encountered by NRT staff when they were returning from a board meeting. Although they shot at the vehicle, they only succeeded in lightly wounding the driver. Gabriel Nyausi, who tells the story in this podcast, immediately alerted NRT Headquarters, and the 9-1 security team tracked the cattle raiders to the settlement of Kom. Lardagos died fighting to protect his community and his rangelands.
Gabriel Nyausi, NRT community development manager, describes the role of conservancy rangers, who play a vital role in keeping the peace, protecting local populations, reducing poaching and monitoring wildlife.
NRT’s 9-1 rapid response team – consisting of 12 highly trained rangers – has played a significant role in the battle against poaching, banditry and livestock theft. Trained in weapon handling, combat operations and advanced first aid, the team’s members come from three different ethnic groups. Ian Craig, who helped to establish the team when he was NRT’s first chief executive officer, describes the importance of 9-1.
Josephine Ekiru was the first woman to be elected as chair of a conservancy board of directors. During the past few years, she has played a major role in defusing conflict between the Borana and Turkana pastoralists in Nakuprat-Gotu conservancy. She has also risked her life spearheading the battle against ivory poaching. Not long ago, she was held at gunpoint by a group of poachers. In this podcast, recorded on a stormy day at her father’s shop near Archers Post – you can hear the wind shaking the corrugated iron roof – she describes what happened. Since then the men who held at gunpoint have given up poaching, and the individual who called her to the ambush is now a conservancy ranger.
The Mathews Range of mountains is one of the great refuges for elephant in northern Kenya. Following the worldwide ban on the ivory trading 1989, their numbers steadily increased, and the population in this spectacular mountain range is now estimated to be around 2700. Inevitably, they have become a target for poachers. However, the vigilance and hard work of the rangers in Namunyak Conservancy, working with the Kenya Wildlife Service and the police, has helped to reduce poaching during recent years. Fred Njagi, the conservancy’s head warden, tells the story in this podcast.
Hirola, the world’s most endangered antelope, is restricted to north-east Kenya and neighbouring parts of Somalia. Disease, drought and hunting dramatically reduced the population during the 1990s. Fortunately, the hirola is revered by the Abdullah Somali, the main ethnic group in Ishaqbini Conservancy, and they have established a predator-proof hirola sanctuary with support from NRT and the Kenya Wildlife Service, and funding from The Nature Conservancy. As a result, the population has begun to rise again. Juliet King tells the story.
While species such as Grevy’s zebra, oryx, giraffe and wild dog have become more abundant in many community conservancies, lions continue to suffer, largely because they come into conflict with pastoralists. Nevertheless, some communities realise that lions are an important part of their wildlife, attracting tourists and revenue. Juliet King describes how one conservancy dealt with a camel herder who killed a lion.
West Gate Conservancy has devoted considerable resources to the education of its children. Take, for example, Ngutuk Ongiron primary school. In 1995, the school was abandoned, following raids by a neighbouring tribe. Eight years later, the government appointed a new headmaster, Joseph Lentaka. The old school buildings had been wrecked, and Joseph initially held classes under a tree. In this podcast, he describes how conservancy funds, generated by tourism, have helped to create a thriving school.
In this short podcast, Gabriel Nyausi explains how recent research has found that the NRT livestock programme pays pastoralists better prices than any other markets in Northern Kenya. Pastoralists who sell to the NRT programme don’t have to trek their cattle to distant markets. If they don’t like NRT’s offer, they don’t have to sell, but that’s never happened yet.